Providing Alcohol to Minors
Teenagers who drink typically obtain their alcohol from an older individual who is legally allowed to purchase it. In Florida, it is illegal to knowingly give alcohol to a minor under the age of 21, unless the individual furnishing the alcohol is the minor’s parent, guardian or spouse and is present when the minor consumes the alcohol. Anyone else found to be providing alcohol to a minor may be arrested and can be held responsible for any damages caused by the minor’s intoxication.
The Florida legislature has extended the scope of this law to include not only physically furnishing a minor with alcohol, but also knowingly allowing minors to drink or use drugs at a hosted party. This law is known as the “open house party” statute. Anyone who controls a residence and allows a house party, knowing that minors are drinking alcohol on the premises, may be arrested on criminal charges.
While this law originally applied only to individuals who are 21 or older who host a party at their residence, it has been extended to include individuals as young as 18 years old. If you host a party and “look the other way” while minors drink alcohol, you are committing a criminal offense.
Consequences of Violating the Law
Whether you actively give alcohol to a minor or passively allow minors to drink on your property, you are furnishing alcohol to a minor, a criminal offense in Florida. This offense is punishable as a Class A Misdemeanor, which may include up to 1 year in jail and/or a maximum $4,000 fine.
If you have been arrested for furnishing alcohol to a minor, you will likely face an aggressive prosecution in court. Consider consulting with a criminal defense lawyer immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and to help you prepare your defense for court.
For sound legal advice and assistance on preparing your case, contact the experienced West Palm Beach criminal attorneys of Eric N. Klein & Associates, P.A. today at 561-353-2800.